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Thanksgiving Gratitude: 5 Ways to Bring Yoga Philosophy to the Table
There is no question that this year has been trying. Between a global pandemic, tumultuous politics, and everything in between, 2020 has put our yoga practice to the test.
This year, likely more than ever before, we’ve faced one challenge after another. This has caused us to reach deeply into our philosophy toolkit, utilize our most soothing pranayama practices, and to sit with ourselves (literally by ourselves) for extended periods of isolation time.
Despite the many losses and hardships that this year has seen, as Thanksgiving rounds the corner, we still have so much to be grateful for. And yoga philosophy never fails to offer us golden nuggets of wisdom as we prepare to give thanks for a year that feels less than gratitude-worthy.
Yet, there is always something to be thankful for. And yoga teaches us that we really do have so much to appreciate.
How to Find Gratitude This Thanksgiving - 5 Yogic Ways
Yoga philosophy spans many different traditions and ideologies. But many of its tenets are steadfast. Here are five ways to apply the rich, ancient history of yogic philosophy to your Thanksgiving this year.
1. Find Gratitude in Saucha
The practice of purity and cleanliness has always been held in high esteem, but likely never more so than during a global health crisis. Ancient yogis believed that purity of the body was just as important as purity of mind.
Both external and internal cleansing rituals are helping to keep us all safe and this is something for which we can undoubtedly be grateful. Each time you wash your hands, give a small bow of thanks for the running water that cleanses you. Let this simple act of gratitude cleanse your inner spirit and mind as well.
2. Feel Thankful for Satya
In this age of misinformation, there is nothing more powerful than truth. We can all humbly bow our heads to the speakers of truth that have willingly shared information that we’ve needed. Scientists, doctors, and medical experts that have spread real information about how to stop and stall the spread of COVID, how to flatten the curve, and lower the risk of transmission have been guiding lights during this unprecedented and tumultuous time.
Yogis have always regarded truth as one of the most important and fundamental aspects of practice so give thanks for truthfulness and the power of Truth—with a capital T.
3. Bow Down to All Your Gurus
Our lives are all filled with gurus whether we recognize it or not. These spiritual teachers can take on many different shapes and forms. Some are more traditional teachers while others appear as parents or partners, children, global health crises, or civil rights movements.
If we view everything and everyone that we meet on our paths as our teachers, then we will never miss a lesson. So give thanks to every hardship, every success, and every stone in the road that you’ve encountered that has taught you something meaningful.
Give thanks for isolation and give thanks for your health. Give thanks for your job loss, even if it doesn’t feel like a blessing at the moment. Every bump in the road and every paved path to success offers us lessons when we’re ready to accept them and learn them.
Give thanks to each and every guru you’ve encountered this year, including the ones that still feel raw and unsettled. Their lessons will be revealed to you in time.
4. Appreciate Your Breath
The practice of pranayama dates back millennia. Breath has always been a sacred force to yogis. And there has never been a more apt time to appreciate and honor your own breath. With the out-of-control spread of a respiratory illness, our breath has become even more precious than it once was. While thousands are hospitalized and supported on external breathing machines, we can certainly find the time to feel grateful for our own life-giving breath.
Our breath sustains us, both literally and figuratively. So take the time to find gratitude and appreciation for this powerful form of prana, life-force energy.
5. Give Thanks for Unity
The underlying principle of almost all yogic schools and philosophies is union. And although this can be interpreted in a multitude of different ways, union—at its core—is about connection. Even though this feels like the year of disconnect with social distancing and isolation, this seemingly divisive year has actually created a sense of deep connection for many of us.
Italians sang songs to each other across their balconies, New Yorkers collectively put the city to sleep to protect their neighbors, and Cuban doctors bravely boarded planes to support hard-hit nations. While it may be hard to see right now, so much of the beauty in humanity has shown through this darkness to support unity and oneness. And for that, we can all certainly feel grateful.
Embrace the Wisdom of Yoga Philosophy This Thanksgiving (and Every Day!)
The idea behind Thanksgiving is such a beautiful concept. As a holiday entirely devoted to giving thanks and feeling and expressing gratitude, it seems especially important this year. Give thanks for all that you have to be grateful for this year, including the wisdom of yogic philosophy that has the power to guide us through challenge and hardship with insight and grace.
Leah Sugerman is a yoga teacher, writer, and passionate world traveler. An eternally grateful student, she has trained in countless schools and traditions of the practice. She teaches a fusion of the styles she has studied with a strong emphasis on breath, alignment, and anatomical integrity. Leah teaches workshops, retreats, and trainings, both internationally and online. For more information, visit www.leahsugerman.com.